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Believer Beware!

Romans 16 contains serious warnings.  Romans 16 is about sweet fellowship in Christ.  Paul mentions 33 people by name, 24 in Rome and 9 in Corinth (from where Paul was writing).  However, sweet fellowship doesn’t just happen.  Believers need to cultivate it through warmth and encouragement.  They also need to cultivate it by looking out for and turning away from people who would purposefully disrupt it (16:18).  Such people actually exist.  Scripture warns about them everywhere (2 Corinthians 11:13; Galatians 1:8-9; Philippians 3:2; Colossians 2:18; 1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 3:6; Titus 3:10; 2 Peter 2:2-3; 1 John 2:18; 2 John 10-11; Jude 12).

Romans 16 is appropriate.  Paul had just commanded the Roman believers to exchange holy kisses (16:16).  Now, he is telling them to spy out and turn away from others (16:17)!  It is seems so abrupt!  However, it is appropriate.  Believers are in a war, and the church never has peace when evil is unconfronted.  The Roman church was obedient and well-known (16:19).  Therefore, Paul could predict that they would come under attack.  Paul expected the Roman church to be obedient to this command as they were to all the others in Scripture. 

Romans 16:17-20 is not popular.  Professor Alva McClain wrote this: “In these modern times we are told we must have unity above all else.  The idea of being united has been exalted to the very skies, and very often at the price of truth and purity . . . here is a very plain commandment that the Christian is never to surrender, even for the sake of unity, to any man or woman who brings some teaching contrary to the doctrine we have learned in this book.  In other words: truth above unity” (Romans, The Gospel of God’s Grace, 250).  He wrote this in 1973!  It is even worse now.  Confronting evil is never comfortable, and most don’t want to do it. However, the alternative is to let dissension and conflict ruin the church.

False teachers tend to be flatterers.  False teachers come with sugar.  They please to the face, while hiding the knife.  The Puritan Thomas Brooks, in his Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices (1652) mentions 7 key characteristics of false teachers and disciples: they are man-pleasers; they slander the most faithful; they invent visions and so-called truths from their own imagination; they emphasize the smaller issues, not the Gospel; they are smooth talkers; they care more about their own opinions, than improving others’ lives; and, they try to make money off their followers.  Paul warns the Roman believers that these men are selfish and deceptive.  They also prey on the most vulnerable (16:18).

Believers are to imitate God.  God is a God of Peace, but He still crushes satan (16:20).  God knows that there can be no peace with satan and his followers.  Therefore, He opposes all evil and instructs believers to do the same.  When believers oppose evildoers according to the will of God, He promises them victory by His grace.  He arranges things so that believers will stomp on satan with their own feet (16:20).

Believer, be wise!  

Greet the faithful with a holy kiss!  Expose evildoers and turn away from them!

Sun, Sep 20, 2015

Believer Beware!